Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lessons on Motivations

One of the best lessons coaching has taught me is that each person has their own personal motivations and stress and comfort triggers.  What burns some people out, can actually be comforting and motivating to others.  What some find stressful, others find reassuring.  What motivates some doesn't necessarily work for others and vice-versa.  As a coach I have learned to not assume other's motivations are the same as what mine were as an athlete, and instead to help them find and understand, embrace and use their own motivations in the best and most useful ways possible.

A few great examples of this:  I have worked with some very successful athletes who get totally stressed out by paces and times and race their best when going watchless and running strictly by feel, and other equally as successful ones who take comfort in and work best with very well defined and regular pace/time targets.  Some need/desire a well defined race plan and some a more general race plan.  Some runners are planners and draw a great comfort in having training and racing laid out in advance to give them a sense of focus and knowing they have a set path to follow, while others are more free spirits and spontaneous and need greater flexibility and don't like having a schedule hanging over their heads. Some thrive on competition and beating their rivals, while others thrive on the personal betterment of their own PR's or performances.   I can name plenty of successful runners that fall on all sides of these issues and more.

The point of this I guess, is that as a runner or coach we need to recognize that we are all different mentally and that is OK. And it pains me to see runners or coaches criticize or assume another runner or coach is doing it wrong because they are doing something that doesn't mentally work for them. We need to stop judging other's motivations and instead realize that what is most important is what works best for that individual runner, and assuming that what works for you in terms of motivation and burn-out applies to them as well just might not be true.  Sure we will likely find many who have similar motivations and stress and comfort triggers to ourselves, but we will also find many who are different.  In those cases be encouraging and understanding, not judgmental, and appreciate all the amazing variations we have in our great sport.

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